Thanks to Catbert for sending this in awhile ago (sorry for the delay in getting it scanned!)
Alien Life Form
Vancouver Actor A Model ET
From: TV Week (November 99)
By Robin Roberts
Brendan Fehr greets me at the door to his room at the Waterfront Centre Hotel barefoot, wearing faded jeans and white T-shirt, his hair matted and spiky, as though he’d just rolled out of bed. Inside, the room is stuffy and dim, the shades drawn to a rare sunny Vancouver afternoon. I step over abandoned newspapers, shoes and food wrappers; a suitcase gapes open to reveal an assemblage of apparel seemingly tossed inside at a moment’s notice. “Please sit down,” he tells me, turning off the TV. When I glance about uncertainly for a place to do just that, he apologizes and slides a clump of clothing off the chair. Seems even alien teenagers never clean up their rooms.
The first thing I scribble in my notebook is that Fehr, co-star of Roswell, the new fall teen drama with a twist, bears an uncanny resemblance to TV’s most famous conspiracy theorist Fox Mulder, something a big U.S. entertainment magazine also notes months later. It’ s a fitting comparison in more ways than one. Whatever it was that fell out of the sky in the small New Mexico town in 1947 has continued to consume many theorists who maintain it was a UFO and that the U.S. government has been covering it up ever since. Playing on the paranoia, Roswell the series follows three young supposed alien survivors as they strive to keep their identity a secret while searching for the meaning of their lives. (And you thought it was hard enough being a teenager, with all that pressure to fit in and conform. The last thing you wanted was to be different.)
After Behr saves local cutey Shiri Appleby’s life with a magic hand (aliens, after all, are supposed to have special powers), she discovers his other- worldly roots but falls for him anyway. When Sheriff Valenti (William Sadler) gets hip to the cover-up, he sets out on a mission to expose the extraterrestrial’ trio.
Despite his disheveled appearance on this day, Fehr, 22, looks like he could have stepped straight out of a Gap ad which, I learn, is not too far off the mark. Originally planning for a career in accounting, Fehr decided he’d rather be a high school math teacher. After registering for university in Winnipeg, he came to Vancouver for a friend’s wedding. On a lark, he strolled into Look Management, thinking he could grab a couple of gigs, help pay the tuition. There were no modeling jobs, but there was an interesting TV role up for grabs. Casting for Roswell was under way in Los Angeles, New York and Vancouver. Fehr read for the roles of Max, which went to Jason Behr, and Michael. “I actually wanted to play Michael,” he says, sitting cross-legged on the rumpled bed. “I thought he was a better character for me; I thought I had a better chance of nailing it.”
He thought right. “It makes you feel pretty good when they cast in two of the biggest cities in the U.S. and you manage to top everybody else for some reason,” says Fehr. “I guess I just fit the description physically for what they wanted and managed to show something in the audition that they wanted portrayed by the character. A combination of skill and luck, I suppose.” If it’s skill, it’s inherent, since Fehr isn’t exactly a graduate of a prestigious acting academy – or any academy, for that matter. “I have about an hour and a half to two hours acting lessons,” he confesses. “I had an audition for Mystery, Alaska [a David E. Kelley project that you likely missed if you blinked this summer] and I figured I’d be going up against some pretty big names so I wanted to sharpen up a little more. So I saw a lady two times. I was pretty dose; Ryan Northcott ended up getting the part. He’s’ a Canadian too.” To play saucer man Michael Guerin, family friend to brother-and-sister alien team Max and Isabel Evans (Katherine Heigl), Fehr, who was born in New Westminster and raised in Vancouver and Winnipeg, doesn’t conjure little green men or bug-eyed greys.
“I don’t play him as an alien, I play him as a guy who’s been dealt a particular hand in life where the stakes are very high, as a guy who has to be very cautious and do certain things to survive,” he says, sipping a cup of black coffee. “I don’t prepare myself for any character in general that extensively. If it’s written well, all you gotta do is memorize the lines and if you say it naturally, the way it�s meant to be said, you’ll come off as that character.” So much for Method acting. In fact, Fehr is playing out his character exactly as intended. “The bottom line is that this is a love story,” says executive producer David � Nutter, a fonder X-Files producer/director. ” Everybody : wants to fall in love – teenagers and adults. That’s something we all have in common and something that, I think, really brings this show to the emotional front for an audience. It’s not just about teenagers contemplating their navel. It’s about life and death and making very important decisions. It’s a timeless story about unrequited love.”
That’s the element of author Melinda Metz’s book series, Roswell High, upon which the show is based, that inspired executive producer Jason Katims (My So-Called Life) to create the series. “The thing that was most appealing to me [about the novels] was that it was a love story with a real obstacle to it. If yon want to do a contemporary story about young people, it’s hard to find a real obstacle. It’s hard to find something that you really think, Why can’t they get together? : What’s the big deal? The fact that they are different life forms really gives you a real obstacle.” No kidding. “I used to say teenagers were the aliens among us,” adds : Nutter. “I think all teenagers kind of feel that way in many respects.”
Meanwhile, Brendan Fehr the actor has to contend with being an alien�s another kind, one from north of the 49th. “oh, I get razzed about [being Canadian],” he laughs. You let one eh’ out et slip one sorry instead of sawry and they’re all over you! But it�s all in good fun. I poke fun at them for being American, but I have to tread lightly because I’m surrounded by about a hundred of em every day.” Fortunately they’re friend- ly specimens. “We have some extremely funny people in the cyst,” says Fehr. “Jason Behr has a million impressions and a million accents which are really funny.
Nick Wechsler, who plays the sheriff’s son, is just one of the funniest guys you’ll ever meet in your life. Jonathan Frakes [Star Trek; the Next Generation], who’s directing, is hilarious. You put a bunch of people together who haven’t worked together before, and the chances of it running smoothly you wouldn’t think are very good, but everyone gets along really we]1.” Good thing, because immediately after crash landing on the fall schedule, Roswell has generated favorable media buzz, which means it could be around for a while. “I’m excited about it,” says Behr about the critical notice. “I mean, pilots, you know, how many of them actually get on the air? The percentage is so small, and then once you’re on the air how many of them last? Not very many. So the buzz, and it’s all good buzz, is really exciting.
To be one of the shows, especially to be dealing with the subject we’re dealing with – teens and aliens – it’s not the : most conducive to critics saying it’s great. Yes it’s different, but there’s a lot of different stuff out there that’s bad and it�s bad because they’re trying to be too different. They’re trying to use all these gimmicks and quirks and it’s just stupid. I’m sick of all the teenage shows coming out. Being a teenage show, obviously we have to cater to the teens, but I think we rise above the traditional stuff on television and movies.” And while he’s waiting to see if Roswell has risen high enough for a second season, Brendan Fehr isn’t in any hurry to capitalize on his new found fame. “I get thrown a lot of scripts but nothing I like the sound of right now,” he shrugs (although he appears in the big-budget horror flick Final Destination, being released in March). “If I don’t get anything I’d be content to just relax. I don’t want to rush into anything and make a film just for the sake of making something. I’d rather go back home to Winnipeg and relax. I’d rather deliver� newspapers or pick berries than do a movie I’m not going to be proud of.” Fortunately, with a full season pick-up of Roswell, he doesn’t have to. Somebody up there likes him.